By Evan Blair, Operations Intern
The Potomac League playoffs are right around the corner, and it could not be a more exciting time here at Capital One Park. Starting tomorrow, we will have single-elimination games played – three games on Wednesday, two games on Thursday, and the championship game on Saturday. The tournament-style bracket includes every team in the Potomac League and is seeded by regular season records. The match-ups are set, the teams are ready, and it is win or go home. With that, let’s look at my prediction for how the tournament will shake out.
Champion: Rough Riders
The Rough Riders are a phenomenal team and have two outstanding starting arms, Cole Snead and Ryan Dudak. Along with those two, the bullpen is outstanding, and the lineup is composed of many talented players. The Rough Riders have the most speed in the league, stealing 74 bases on the year, and have the second-best batting average in the league. The elite combination of speed, average, and pitching means the Rough Riders will breeze past the struggling Bunt Cakes and come up with a win against the Yard Dogs. In the end, I believe the Rough Riders will have what it takes to win the 2023 championship.
Runner-Up: Chili Dogs
The Chili Dogs are the most talented team in the league, but talent does not always win championships. Led by Josh Gjormand, Carson Estridge, and Cooper Charneco, the Chili Dogs have a deep rotation that has been able to compete all season long. However, I think they will fall short in the end. The Chili Dogs have had an up-and-down past week, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for a successful tournament run. Furthermore, the Chili Dogs are missing their biggest piece, Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand. After already winning a high school state championship this year, Coach Pudge is one of the winningest coaches in the state, maybe even the country. Without Pudge, I do not think this team will win a championship.
The Rest of the Bracket: Hot Wings & Yard Dogs Make the Second Round
The Hot Wings will upset the Red Foxes in the first round because the Hot Wings are playing at an elite level right now. The Wings are 3-0 in their last 3 games, outscoring opponents by 10 runs in that stretch. The Red Foxes have had a rocky last few weeks and now sit at 9-9 on the season. Facing the Hot Wings will be too tall a task for the scuffling Red Foxes.
The Yard Dogs will easily breeze past the Gators and set themselves up for a 2 vs. 3 seed semi-final game against the Rough Riders. The Yard Dogs are close to a sure thing for victory in their opening round game, especially because of their elite arms and bullpen. The Yard Dogs have thrown back-to-back no-hitters in their final two games - an excellent way to end the season. No one has a more well-built, all-around team than Carson Carroll. However, I believe that doesn’t stop the Rough Riders from handing them their first loss in 5 games on Thursday evening in the semi-finals.
The table is set, plates are loaded, and everyone is at the dinner table. It is win or go home here at Capital One Park and everyone has their eyes on a championship.
Make sure to be on the lookout for All-Potomac League Teams, which will be announced on Twitter soon!
By Evan Blair, Operations Intern
The Potomac League is heading into its final two weeks, as July comes to its midpoint. There are great events and baseball ahead as SYA and CYA Little League Night is on the 17th, 80’s Night is on the 19th, and Hot Rods and Home Runs is on the 22nd. Make sure to check out the “Special Events'' page for more information.
On the baseball side, the league is heating up. The standings are tightening, teams are starting to feel pressure, and the playoffs are looming. We have seen the Bunt Cakes win more games, the Hot Wings are seemingly coming together, while a few teams are faltering. With that, let’s look at the week's power rankings.
I’ll admit it – I was wrong. The Gators are not going to be the champion, nor will they finish with the top seed at the end of the season.
#6 Hot Wings
The Hot Wings have shown signs of improvement, but still have the worst record in the league. They won 3 out of 4 games this past week, and the 3 wins came against the Chili Dogs, Red Foxes, and Rough Riders. Their only loss was a 7-0 shutout against the Gators. Again, the Hot Wings have shown signs of improvement, but not enough to make a major jump in the power rankings this week. However, with the Hot Wings heating up, the league should be on red alert.
#5 Red Foxes
This was a tough placement, but it had to happen. Although the league saw what the Red Foxes best pitching is capable of with a combined no-hitter on Saturday, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for the Foxes this week. The Red Foxes have sobered up from their week 1 unbeaten streak, and do not seem anywhere near the team they were in that first week of play. Dominick Proctor is arguably the best player in the league, but the question is – can he put the team on his back down the stretch?
#4 Yard Dogs
The Yard Dogs are a phenomenal team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Sitting at 4th in the standings, they also will sit at 4th in power rankings. Why? The Yard Dogs are a solid team. They never ride too high, never too low. Coached by Carson Carroll, the team is going to steal a lot of bases, which they have done well. Another thing they have done well is not strike out, which is a big key to success in any baseball league.
#3 Bunt Cakes
The Bunt Cakes went .500 this week and in my book that’s another good week for the pink pinstripes. Coach Ferrick and his team had a killer loss to the Chili Dogs, being walked off in the bottom of the 7th on Saturday, but hung in there. Marcus LeClair has the league’s best batting average at .462, the Cakes’ ERA is consistently getting better, and the team as a whole is playing better baseball. It is fun to watch the Bunt Cakes play – they are young, play with a lot of emotion, and care about winning in this league, which will go a long way at the end of the season.
#2 Rough Riders
Although the Rough Riders did not have a stellar week, they still sit at 2 on the rankings because of their consistency in all facets of the game. Their pitching, led by Ryan Dudak and Cole Snead, seems to be impenetrable, and their hitting doesn’t show signs of slowing down. With the best run differential in the league, the Rough Riders are a tough opponent, and may be the scariest team to face in the league.
#1 Chili Dogs
The Chili Dogs will not move from the number 1 spot, but it was not an easy choice this week. Going 2-1 from 7/10 – 7/15, the Chili Dogs maintained their number 1 spot in the rankings, but had a nailbiter of a game on Saturday afternoon and were shutout by the Hot Wings earlier in the week. The Chili Dogs are great, but not unbeatable. A longer week next week will be a test for them. If their pitching staff other than Estridge, Charneco and Gjormand can step up, they will be in an excellent spot. All in all, the Chili Dogs remain number 1, because of their superpowered offense and talented roster all around.
By Evan Blair, Operations Intern
It was an exciting week at Capital One Park. There were walk-offs, great events, and the Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, threw out the first pitch on July 4th. We were honored to have Governor Youngkin at the park, and he was gracious enough to meet players, parents, coaches, and interns. July 4th also brought two great games – a big Chili Dogs win, and the Bunt Cakes won their second game of the season. Looking at the week ahead, West Springfield and Central Springfield Little League night is on Monday July 10th and First Responders Night is on Wednesday July 12th. The baseball action will also continue to heat up as we get closer to the playoffs. Now, let’s look at this week’s rankings:
#7 Hot Wings
The Hot Wings are unfortunately, very cold right now. With the worst record in the league at 2-8, the second worst batting average in the league at .209, and the second worst run differential as well, the Hot Wings are not meeting expectations. On paper this looked to be a top team, but, right now, they aren’t playing like it.
The Gators have had their ups and downs throughout the first half of the season, but did not end week 3 on a high note. Tying with the Yard Dogs and losing to the Bunt Cakes were definitely deflating. The Gators have the worst batting average in the league at .202 and are average on the mound. The Gators need to improve on offense and defense to get a top 4 seed in the playoffs, because right now nothing seems to be going right.
#5 Bunt Cakes
THE BUNT CAKES. Why all caps? Because the Bunt Cakes are flaming hot right now. Four wins in a row means that the Bunt Cakes are now sitting at number 5 in the standings. A switch flicked and the Bunt Cakes are firing on all cylinders. Marcus LeClair leads the team in batting average and his return seemed to turn this team around. I expect this team to continue their winning ways going into next week.
*For now I will be referring to the Bunt Cakes as the Hot Cakes (no jinx, no jinx)
#4 Red Foxes
The Red Foxes have cooled off in the past week. Getting beat 12-0 by the Rough Riders, and going 2-2 on the week, the Red Foxes have not played great baseball. Spirits seem to be low in the Foxes dugout and one of their key players, Dominick Proctor, is missing. The Red Foxes still have the second-best record in the league, but, again, things are looking more negative than positive.
Something to point out: The Red Foxes are last in the league in stolen bases, with 7 as a team. They are separated by 35 stolen bases from the closest team in the standings, the Chili Dogs. As we have seen so far, stolen bases are key in winning games, and the Red Foxes have not shown the ability to swipe bags this season.
#3 Yard Dogs
The Yard Dogs have a solid record at 6-4-1 and have the league’s second highest batting average at .230. Christian Carver continues to impress as one of the best hitters in the league. The Yard Dogs have also gotten major support from their pitching staff with a 2.78 ERA. The team has had some up and down moments, but are still a dangerous team, especially on the basepaths.
#2 Rough Riders
Next, we have the Rough Riders. The Rough Riders are playing amazing baseball right now. On Friday, the Rough Riders destroyed the Red Foxes in a 12-0 mercy; And, the next day, the Rough Riders beat the Yard Dogs 3-1. This is a fun team to watch – they are second in stolen bases, have the lowest ERA in the league, and are led by Cole Snead and Ryan Dudak on the mound. The bullpen will be key for the Rough Riders success in the next few weeks, but the league should be watching this team closely.
#1 Chili Dogs
The Chili Dogs have finally earned the number one spot in the power rankings. With the best batting average, highest OBP, most stolen bases, and highest OPS, the Chili Dogs have proven they are an excellent hitting team. However, the Chili Dogs are not only great at the plate, but they have excelled on the mound as well. Led by Carson Estridge, Cooper Charneco, and Josh Gjormand, the Chili Dogs are keeping runs and hits to a minimum.
Player Spotlight: Clay Clarke is the league leader in 6 offensive categories: Avg., OBP, OPS, SB, Hits, and Runs. Clarke is an exciting player to watch and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. As the Chili Dogs best hitter through week 3, Clarke is on pace to be league MVP.
By Evan Blair, Operations Intern
July is upon us, which brings Independence day, fun events, and great baseball at Capital One Park. The second week of the Potomac League season was competitive to say the least. We have multiple teams tied at the top of the standings and a few others right behind. Before I reveal this week’s power rankings, let’s look at a few key events coming up at Capital One Park.
Independence Day at The Ballpark:
On July 4th, there will be two games played at Capital One Park – Chili Dogs vs. Gators at 9:30am and Hot Wings vs. Bunt Cakes at 12:30pm. Before the second game, Virginia Governor, Glenn Youngkin, will be on hand to throw out the first pitch! Get ready to see our Governor and enjoy a variety of Independence Day games and prizes!
Little League Nights:
Throughout the month of July, multiple area little leagues will be invited to the ballpark to watch the games and enjoy Capital One Park! Make sure to check out the “Special Events” tab to find when your little league night is.
First Responder’s Night:
On July 12th, Capital One Park and the Potomac League will be celebrating the men and women who protect us every day. All first responders will have free admission and will be recognized throughout the night!
These are just some of the many events coming up at Capital One Park this July. Make sure to check out our social media feed, @potomacleague, and the “Special Events” tab to keep up to date on the exciting things happing at the ballpark.
Now, to the power rankings.
#7 Bunt Cakes
Last week, I said if the Bunt Cakes can turn things around and win a few games, then their dreadful start to the season would be solved. However, this did not happen. The Bunt Cakes lost 4 more games, which puts their record at 0-7. The Bunt Cakes have the lowest batting average in the league at .143 and the highest ERA in the league at 6.05 – not a good combination for winning games.
The Bright Side: The Bunt Cakes have mostly been in close games and have Marcus LeClair, the Virginia Tech committed 1st basemen, back for the remainder of the season.
#6 Hot Wings
The Hot Wings have not lived up to their pre-season expectations and it is obvious that the Coach Spencer lead team, has not been firing on all cylinders. Only a few key players are performing, such as Jake Slade and Brendan Cecka, but that is not enough for the Hot Wings to win many games.
The Bright Side: The Hot Wings’ 2-5 record does not necessarily tell the whole story. The Hot Wings have a run differential of only -5 and haven’t had a terrible loss yet. Coach Spencer and his team are holding others close and in due time, it will pay off.
#5 Rough Riders
The Rough Riders have a good record, but are sitting in the bottom in terms of statistics and have not yet shown to be consistent in any facet of the game. Furthermore, the Rough Riders record is inflated by playing lesser competition so far.
The Bright Side: The Rough Riders are absolutely a team to watch out for down the line. Why? The Rough Riders have shown to play deep into games and have a dominating presence on the mound.
The Gators are sitting at .500 on the season and show some signs of greatness, but overall have not yet gotten hot offensively. The Gators have the second lowest batting average in the league, at .174, but have managed to win games with great pitching, with a league-best ERA of 1.54. Beating a scrappy Rough Riders team and having a run differential of 0 puts the Gators at #4 this week.
#3 Chili Dogs
The Chili Dogs will remain in their #3 position. It was a good week for the Chili Dogs, going 3-1, but in that span have played the Hot Wings twice and Bunt Cakes once. For as good as the Chili Dogs are, their defense is still lacking, and their pitching has some work to do. The Chili Dogs own the number two position in walks and hit by pitches, but make up for it by having the highest team batting average in the league, at .271.
The Bright Side: The Chili Dogs are probably the most talented team in the league, have star players all around the field, and most likely, will gain the bat of Campbell Charneco off the injured list soon.
#2 Yard Dogs
The Yard Dogs have shown the ability to play the game the right way, by making the least number of errors in the league. Good defense comes at a premium in this league and the Yard Dogs know how to play it. Carson Carroll has built a winning team, that cares about the game, and has fun while doing it.
The Bright Side: If the Yard Dogs continue to show class on the baseball field, they will be in a good spot come the end of the season.
#1 Red Foxes
Although the Red Foxes went .500 on the week, they remain the #1 team. Why? The Red Foxes continue to show that they are the most well-balanced team in this league. Sitting at #2 in batting average and team ERA, and #1 in fewest walks given up, the Red Foxes are in an amazing spot. Led by Dominick Proctor and Rixon Webb at the plate, and 3 different pitchers with 0 ERA’s, the Red Foxes look to continue their winning ways in week 3.